A new cigar lounge is the first business of its kind in Orangeburg.
Orangeburg's Cigar Palace, touted as the "man's castle away from home," has opened its doors at 339 St. John St. The lounge is across the street from the historic former city jail known as the Pink Palace.
The cigar lounge opened Aug. 24 and had its grand opening Sept. 3.
"What makes the cigar business unique is that it is a community where people come together," owner Willie Wade said. "We refer to each other as brothers and sisters of the leaf. Kings and queens of the leaf."
"It is a place where a Republican and a Democrat, where a Muslim and a Buddhist can sit down together and the smoke blows all of that away," he said. "It is a community that is bonded."
The lounge is open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to midnight and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The business has a walk in humidor, library, reading room, computer lab and free Wifi. The cigar bar touts itself as the only one in the state with a library and computer lab.
"I thought about college professors, I thought about police officers, I thought about the different things that cigar smokers do that wound't be as tedious if they could smoke a cigar," he said.
The store offers a number of cigar brands such as Arturo Fuente, ACID, Romeo Y Julieta. All cigars are graded mid 80s and above. Individuals must be 21 or older to smoke.
The lounge also sells cigar accessories, tobacco products, pipes and cigar T-shirts for males and females.
The lounge provides seats for chess and backgammon. A pool table is also available.
The lounge also boasts four large-screen television sets and is open during both college and NFL games. If there is a football game, the lounge will remain open until the game ends.
Discounts are offered for military, police, first responders and college students with ID.
Wade says cigar smokers are a "different type of people" and are not elitist or classist.
"It is a community of people who we join around that common goal of enjoying a good cigar," Wade said. "It is different from smoking cigarettes."
"You don't see a guy who smokes Kools or a guy who smokes Newports or a guy who smokes Marlboro's discuss for hours on end the beauty of that," he said. "You can talk about a cigar longer than you can smoke it."
As he was doing his research, Wade learned a lot of people from Orangeburg smoke cigars. Discussions he had with representatives of J and R Cigars and and Thompson Cigars revealed to him that both companies make about $4,000 a month on cigar sales out of Orangeburg.
"I said, 'wow that is amazing!" Wade said.
The rest is history.
Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Wade came to South Carolina when he was 14 years old and went to Ruffin High School in Ruffin.
He attended Claflin University for two years on a track scholarship but due to financial challenges in the family, he left college and joined the U.S. Navy.
After the Navy, Wade came back to South Carolina, working with his uncle at the Bowman Vineyards in Round O. The vineyard makes muscadine wine.
The vineyard is also the only wholly owned African-American winery in the state.
But Wade's desire was to always come back to Orangeburg.
"I felt like I loved Orangeburg and Orangeburg loved me," he said. "I never had a bad day in Orangeburg."
He was looking for a business venture and decided on cigars.
"Everybody said, 'Why do you think it is going to work?'" Wade said. "I said because Orangeburg loves me and Orangeburg has been good to me. I call myself Orangeburg's adopted son."
Wade received his bachelor's degree in religion and philosophy from the College of New Rochelle in New York, and went on to Drew Theological Seminary in New Jersey, where he received his masters of divinity. Wade earned his doctorate of divinity from Virginia Theological Seminary.
He was in the ministry for 25 years.
For more information visit www.orangeburgcigarpalace.com or call 803-997-2411.